Throughout more than 23 years serving his country in the U.S. Army, Master Sgt. Eddie Farrior never lost sight of his plan to finish college. On May 7, his mission will be accomplished as he claims his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of South Carolina.
“In the military I traveled so much I couldn’t get a steady grip on classes. I took one here, one there,” Farrior says. “Once I retired, I knew I needed to go ahead and close the loop.”
Farrior considered options and chose South Carolina, where the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management's interdisciplinary studies program matches non-traditional students’ prior experience with a customized degree to reach their academic and career goals.
“I applied and got accepted and that was one of the defining moments,” Farrior says. “And I tell you, the most rewarding thing for me was to walk to my first class.”
Farrior began at South Carolina in 2019, and when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many changes, he found himself taking classes virtually. It was a new experience, but the veteran and grandfather was ready.
“I’ve jumped out of airplanes. I’m not afraid of a challenge. So I said ‘Let’s go, let’s do this virtual thing,’ and it worked out well for me,” Farrior says.
He found his classmates helpful, both virtually and in person when restrictions allowed. They helped him catch up on technology and adjust to being a full-time student, and he gave them the benefit of his experience in the world, having joined the army before many of them were born.
“They kind of leaned on me with my expertise about worldly things, because a lot of them don’t really know what they want to do yet,” Farrior says. “I was able to share my stories and touch some bases, and I thought it was really helpful for both parties.”
The retired infantryman had plenty of experiences to share, and skill in passing it along, having served as an instructor at West Point, Fort Campbell and Fort Benning. He has seen a great deal of the world while deployed to a long list of destinations including Slovenia, Bosnia.
Farrior, who focused on hospitality management classes, also found a warm welcome from the College of HRSM faculty.
“They really care. Even when we were virtual, they made sure we had contact information, and when I needed them, they were there. They never shied away from me,” he says.
As Farrior claims his well-earned degree, his mother, now 93, will be watching proudly, and her son is passing along the wisdom he gained from her.
“She always instilled in me that you stand on your word and you never give up,” Farrior says. “I just use that as fuel, and it served me well in the military and in my new chapter at South Carolina.”